Even though San Diego State was beaten by a lower-division team in its opener, Urban Meyer believes it is dangerous to take the Aztecs lightly.
The Ohio State coach made the case that the Aztecs were on the wrong end of a 40-19 score at home on Saturday night because they lost Adam Muema to an ankle injury — “arguably the best tailback we’ll face all year” — and that FCS member Eastern Illinois played a great game.
Rocky Long will bring his Aztecs to Ohio Stadium on Saturday to face the second-ranked Buckeyes.
After the opening-game loss, he said, “That’s as bad a performance as I’ve ever been around, and obviously I’m responsible, so that’s my fault. It was a horrible, horrible job of coaching.”
Meyer, however, said Long has always been a terrific coach, including stops at New Mexico and now San Diego State.
It was while Long was at his alma mater, New Mexico, in 2003 that his Lobos handed Utah one of only two defeats Meyer sustained during his two years with the Utes.
“I coached against Rocky Long before,” Meyer said Monday. “He’s an excellent football coach, tough, and his guys play real hard. They won nine games last year, which is not surprising for his teams.”
Most of Meyer’s words were directed at his own team, which rolled to a 40-20 win over Buffalo in its opener.
As expected, mistakes were made in the first game. But the Buckeyes figure to be a lot better with the addition of star cornerback Bradley Roby and No. 2 tailback Rod Smith, both coming off one-game suspensions.
Roby, an All-Big Ten performer a year ago, isn’t guaranteed to start but will vie for playing time this week in practice. Armani Reeves, who got the call to replace Roby against Buffalo, and the other starter, Doran Grant, would also be in the mix.
Smith could see action backing up Jordan Hall, who rushed for a career-best 159 yards and two TDs on Saturday, or playing tailback while Hall shifts to the H-back spot. The Buckeyes are still awaiting the return of 2012 leading scorer and No. 2 rusher Carlos Hyde, suspended for three games.
In addition to Roby and Smith, the Buckeyes are hoping they get help from two other starters. Safety C.J. Barnett was held out of the opener with a sprained ankle and center Corey Linsley — a Boardman High graduate — was limited to less than 20 snaps as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery.
Quarterback Braxton Miller had a solid game and a young defense also acquitted itself in the Buckeyes’ season-opening victory.